Panasonic Lumix GF2 review
Panasonic Lumix GF2 review - Performance
The Panasonic Lumix GF2 feels much like an amalgamation of the GF1 and G2 models also found in the Lumix G-series range. There are certainly some advancements over its predecessor in its control mechanism, and the touchscreen is generally responsive. This is great for quick selecting a focus point by pressing a finger directly on the screen itself, and modes such as Peripheral Defocus (which allows a square selection on the camera's screen to be the point of focus) can be dragged around in real time for smooth refocusing that's particularly impressive in movie mode. It's not entirely perfect however, and those familiar with the ultra-quick responses of current Smartphones may not (at least initially) feel at home. The occasional button requires a more assertive or double tap to ensure the press is registered.
The screen itself is 3in and a reasonable 460k-dot resolution, but it's really the angle of view that poses its biggest problem: when attempting to view from a more-than-moderate angle the perception of accurate exposure is entirely lost and, as it's not uncommon to shoot with the camera above or below eye-level, this can be frustrating.
Focusing speed isn't as fast as a DSLR would be as the GF2's reliance on slower contrast-detection AF doesn't match up by comparison. However the general speed and accuracy is good, though there's still room from improvement (something that the forthcoming GH2 has succeeded in doing with its ‘light speed' focusing, which sadly isn't to be found here). The focus-area also suffers from some limitations due to its largely centrally-arranged positioning, causing issues with focusing towards the edge of the frame.
In keeping with both the small size and style there's no built-in viewfinder, though an optional electronic viewfinder (EVF) accessory can be applied via the hotshoe. But at the cost of around an extra £200 this certainly isn't an accessory to be taken lightly in terms of overall price.
The 14mm f/2.5 kit lens equates to 28mm in full-frame (35mm) terms, which is fairly wide angle. A prime lens does mean utmost quality is at your fingertips, but the lack of a zoom will prove limiting for many prospective purchasers. The 14-42mm kit or dual kit lens options may prove more user-friendly for general use.
The zoom ring on the 14mm is fairly stiff and, given its small size, the fingers do feel rather close to the camera body itself. Furthermore such a wideangle lens ought to lend itself well to close-up shooting, but with a minimum focus distance of 18cm from the lens, the macro performance of the 14mm is disappointing (presumably to avoid further barrel distortion).
Panasonic Lumix GF2 - 3D lens
Those looking to step into the 3D world will be pleased to know that a 12.5mm (65mm equivalent) f/12 lens is also available. By recording two images across the sensor a 2.2MP image can be rendered as an MPO file and played back on a compatible 3DTV or device. Although 2.2MP may sound small it's actually a perfect fit for HDTV. The lens works well, though it's very much point and shoot as the focus point is fixed and the aperture can't be adjusted which may limit the potential use, but is there to ensure the most realistic results. They're good, so long as objects aren't too close to the edge of the frame or excessively close to the camera itself.
Speed isn't a particular strong point of the Lumix GF2, but then that's unlikely to be in the mind of those purchasing it. Long exposures take as long to process as they do to shoot, i.e. a 30 second exposure takes an additional 30 seconds to process and clear the buffer (during which time an egg timer displays and it's not possible to continue shooting). The burst mode can shoot at 3.2fps though can only manage four consecutive frames (less than its claimed seven). JPEG-only shooting allows for unlimited frames to be reeled off with little bother.
The battery life shows as a three-bar display that can deplete fairly quickly depending on use. As using the GF2 will always depend on live view mode, the relay of vast amounts of visual information doesn't help the battery life last.